Ahh, the Chicago Bears. The Green Bay Packers’ old...enemies? Friends? Frenemies? The two teams’ histories are as intertwined as any in the NFL to the point that they can hardly exist without each other. That, of course, lends a little extra juice to their twice-yearly matchups, the first of which we get to enjoy this weekend.
It’s a new era in Chicago, too. Justin Fields represents their best quarterback prospect in years, and the Bears still field a solid defense. And with Fields finally taking over for Andy Dalton, the Bears are 3-2 and sit within a game of the Packers in the NFC North standings.
So what should we make of the Bears? We turned to Patti Curl of Windy City Gridiron for an insider perspective.
Acme Packing Company: Justin Fields has been as much a rumor as a real NFL quarterback to this point, but the Bears have finally given him the reins. What’s your read on the rookie, and how glad are you the Lions decided that Jared Goff was a better idea?
Patti Curl: My read on Justin Fields is that he is extremely talented and has the right mindset to succeed. By that I mean he’s calm, obsessed with success, and willing to accept criticism—he’s even asked to be coached hard. He has the most accurate deep ball the Bears have seen in years, and even though we’ve hardly seen it this season, he has the legs to threaten explosive runs and the shifty running ability to make crucial short-yard gains. He was my favorite quarterback coming out of the draft and struggling against the Browns’ insufferable pass rush without help hasn’t changed that opinion.
Let’s put it this way, I had to convince myself to get excited about Mitch Trubisky. I have to talk myself down from my excitement about Fields. And yes, we can add passing on Fields to the list of many things I am grateful to the Lions for.
APC: Matt Nagy is in his fourth year as the head man in Chicago. What’s the relationship like with fans these days? Is he still viewed as a wunderkind, or is some shine off the apple?
PC: The apple lost its shine a while ago for most Bears fans. For some, it happened in 2019 when the offense struggled instead of improving. For others, it was 2020, when the offense with “Nagy’s hand-picked” Nick Foles was even worse than it was with Trubisky. For the rest of us, it happened between 12:30 and 1:00pm central, September 26th when it was clear Nagy’s offense was going to lead to Fields getting embarrassed and possibly injured by Myles Garrett and company in First Energy stadium.
I still think Nagy has the potential to save his job as a head coach after giving up play-calling, as long as he never takes it back and shows he can add value as a leader and teacher and not an offensive coordinator. I think he has a chance to do just that, but I’m in the minority.
APC: Khalil Mack is off to another great start with five sacks through five games, but the Bears paid quite a price to snag him. would you do the trade again?
PC: The Bears played the Raiders last weekend, and in a hilarious bit of trolling, I asked the Raiders writer how much they are enjoying Josh Jacobs, Damon Arnette, and Bryan Edwards. Why? Because those are the players the Raiders drafted with the picks they got in the Khalil Mack trade (Bears also got a 2nd back that they used to draft Cole Kmet). I don’t think anyone would rather have those players than Khalil Mack I know I certainly wouldn’t. The first time he strip-sacked Aaron Rodgers it was worth the trade.
APC: Who’s flying under the radar in Chicago that deserves more attention?
PC: Staley Da Bear has been consistently the best mascot in the NFL but rarely gets recognition, and is only now being nominated into the mascot hall of fame when he should have been in the first class. He got some pop for his inspired reaction to Cody Parkey’s playoff double-doink, but other than that does not get enough screen time in Bears games or national media attention.
Or did you mean a player? If you meant a player, I’ll go with Trevis Gipson. He’s a second-year 5th-round edge rusher who has really thrived in a rotational role in the last two games. If he sacks Aaron on Sunday, he won’t be under the radar much longer.
APC: How excited are you to attend a Bears game in one of Chicago’s finest suburbs rather than in the confines of one of the NFL’s most iconic stadiums?
PC: For a second, I thought you were referring to Green Bay as “one of Chicago’s finest suburbs” which even to me seemed like a stretch. But obviously, you’re referring to Arlington and the prospect of building a shiny new stadium for the Bears to play in when they abandon Soldier Field and everything that makes going to a Bears game a unique experience. If I want to watch the Bears game in a comfortable, high-tech environment, I’ll watch it at home. Going to a football game should be an uncomfortable, borderline miserable, community-building experience.
APC: What’s your prediction for Sunday?
PC: Bears 44 Packers 30
But the Packers get 21 of their points in the 4th quarter after the Bears defense gets gassed as a result of the Bears offense scoring too quickly.